Welcome to Late to the Party, a series in which I discuss video games that I’ve finally gotten around to playing. Today I’m going to talk about For Honor, a third-person action game where vikings, knights, and samurai do battle with each other. I played For Honor on a PlayStation 4 Pro and today’s post will focus on the game’s singleplayer campaign.
I remember first seeing For Honor when it was revealed at Ubisoft’s E3 2015 conference. The game had a cool reveal trailer and I liked how the game’s three factions were loosely based on different warrior traditions from around the world. In a sense it sort of reminded me of that old TV show Deadliest Warrior that I watched back in college. In February of this year For Honor was one of the free games available to PlayStation Plus subscribers so I downloaded it and recently I finally gave the game a try.
For Honor’s singleplayer campaign does have a story, but to be honest it’s quite forgettable. In the world of For Honor there are three major people groups: knights, vikings, and samurai. These groups are plunged into conflict with each other and amongst themselves but the real purpose of the campaign isn’t so much to tell an interesting tale as it is to get players accustomed to how the game plays and giving them a chance to try out two or three of the hero characters of each faction. With that said, however, I do have to concede that For Honor’s world has some surprisingly deep lore that is found through the game’s collectibles. This heavy use of world building via objects in the environment reminds me a lot of when I played another Ubisoft game called The Division.
What stands out much more than For Honor’s story is its gameplay. For Honor makes use of a very novel combat mechanic called the Art of Battle where the player guards and attacks in three different stances: left, right, and high. To damage an opponent you must hit them where they are not guarding and likewise to block an opponent you must correctly guard the side your opponent is attacking. Throw in the ability to parry, guard break, and feint, as well as the way the game’s camera gets close to your hero when you lock-on to an opponent, and you get some very tense a technical duels in For Honor. This system takes some getting used to but works very well once you get into the groove of things.
On the technical front For Honor performs commendably overall. While the game probably won’t blow anyone away with its graphics it’s still visually satisfying most of the time and there are a few particular sections that look great. The visual showcases of For Honor are probably the hero characters, which all have expertly crafted models and excellent fight animations. Sound design in For Honor is also strong and I never experienced any framerate drops or game crashes while playing.
There are some scattered minor game issues worth noting, however. For Honor’s AI can be hilarious stupid at times and some of its boss fights can be totally cheesed. Case in point are the boss fights where the boss won’t pursue you outside of an invisible boundary, thus allowing you to run in, deal some damage, and then run away to heal if the boss is getting the better of you. For Honor’s checkpoint system also needs to be reworked at several spots in the campaign where checkpoints are too far apart. Strangely, the game doesn’t allow you to restart checkpoints from the pause menu, so you’ll have to restart the entire chapter if you want to redo something.
Ultimately, however, the biggest problem with For Honor’s campaign is that I didn’t find it overly enjoyable. The concept of the game is pretty cool but it never really became much fun for me and I wound up finishing the campaign more out of duty than desire. While there are a couple of genuinely epic story chapters I’m otherwise struggling to find any motivation to replay the campaign outside of trophy hunting. When I got to the end of For Honor’s campaign I honestly felt like I was done and ready to move on to another game.
Consequently I never jumped into For Honor’s multiplayer suite. I’ll fully admit that I had never planned to play much multiplayer anyway, but whatever interest I had in trying it out was killed off by the time I finished the singleplayer campaign. From doing some reading online I can say that it looks like Ubisoft has done a good job of supporting For Honor’s multiplayer since the game’s initial launch in 2017 and there’s still a dedicated community of fans playing online these days.
As I was thinking about For Honor it occurred to me that, for me, it’s a lot like Killzone: Shadowfall in that it’s a game that works really well overall but I just didn’t find to be a lot of fun to play. Overall I’d have to rate For Honor’s singleplayer campaign at a 6.5 out of 10, though I should note that if I’d put some time into multiplayer I suspect I’d score the game as a whole a bit higher. For Honor has a great underlying concept and doesn’t have any huge mechanical flaws but it didn’t quite connect with me the way I hoped it would. Hopefully at some point in the future Ubisoft makes a sequel because I think they’ve got something really good here that could be an excellent game with just a bit of refining.